Cole weighs up Chelsea future amid claims of victimisation over private life
ASHLEY COLE is understood to be considering his Chelsea future over the club's determination to punish him in the wake of revelations about his extra-marital relationships.
The Chelsea and England left-back is said to be furious that the club are singling him out for disciplinary action, which will include a hefty fine and a possible suspension, after Sunday newspapers claimed he had an affair while on the club's tour to America last summer and asked an unwitting senior club official to help him cover it up.
Sources close to Cole yesterday suggested that, if he feels he is victimised, he could leave Chelsea, whom he joined in a controversial, drawn-out transfer from Arsenal in 2006, and move abroad.
Cole, who is currently out of action because of a fractured ankle, is one of the most highly-rated full-backs in the world and would easily be able to find a new club, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Internazionale among his admirers.
The 29-year-old defender believes he would be able to escape some of the intense media attention were he to move abroad. Cole, who is married to pop singer Cheryl Cole, has been told he would get more privacy in either Spain or Italy. He is also said to be tempted by the less punishing tax levels enjoyed by several European countries.
Cole is to argue his corner when he faces members of the club's board later this week. The defender's case is believed to centre on the terms and conditions of his contract, and whether he has actually broken them by his behaviour.
The club, however, are keen to make an example of Cole rather than John Terry, whose extra-marital affair cost him the England captaincy, because two of Cole's indiscretions happened on 'club time'.
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich intervened last week to demand an end to the succession of sleazy stories that have engulfed the club in the past month.
Chief executive Ron Gourlay and manager Carlo Ancelotti met with the squad last Wednesday when Ancelotti handed each player a copy of the club's code of conduct. He also reminded them that no one is above the law and issued a warning that there will be no amnesty for indiscretions in the past that may come to light in the future.
Cole has also been in trouble with the law recently. Last month he was banned from driving for four months after speeding at 104mph in a 50mph zone. Cole, who earns £100,000 a week, asked for 21 days to pay his £1,000 fine. (© Independent News Service)